The Nissan Titan Driving Experience

Nissan launched a brand new Titan lineup this year hoping to make more inroads into the lucrative full-size pickup market in the USA. With the triumvirate of the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and the-truck-formerly-known-as-Dodge Ram perennially being the top-selling vehicles in America by appealing to ranchers, farmers, fleet managers, landscapers, wannabe bad-asses, and your neighbor who needs that extra zing in his life but can't bring himself to buy some Cialis it's no surprise that Nissan wants in on more of this action and in a big way.

In order to get more people talking about their new Big Gulp-size pickup Nissan has started offering the Nissan Titan Driving Experience - a traveling presentation and test drive opportunity that's currently touring various major cities. This past Labor Day weekend (and also this coming weekend) they happened to be visiting Phoenix, Arizona and so my local Nissan dealer Sonora Nissan invited me to come out and have a go. Since I was already up in Phoenix for other plans I jumped at the chance and I'm happy to report that me and my friend were grinning like idiots after the off-road portion even before they handed us our complimentary Titan-branded Yeti mugs.

Regular readers will know that I've already driven the Titan XD diesel before and talked about my impressions in a previous post so I won't repeat what I already mentioned there – instead I'll let the pictures do most of the talking:
The first order of the day was to get registered at the indoor exhibit area.

After registration we were directed into the first part of the exhibit area where the walls chronicled Nissan's long history with trucks. Gotta love the happy little face on that blue Datsun on the right :)
The exhibits went on to talk about the ever-popular Nissan Hardbody - famous for being damn near bulletproof and for crossing the English Channel on Top Gear.

Finally you get to the current Titan where detailed displays described how it was as American as Teddy Roosevelt riding a bald eagle while chewing on a hamburger.

The displays also mentioned Nissan's SEMA customized Titan, diesel speed record truck, and the balls-out awesome Titan Warrior concept that for the umpteenth time I'll wish for Nissan to build. On the right hand side you'll see the all-important refreshment area which was great except for it's lack of Coke products. Instead it was infested with cans of that other soda that I won't name but sounds like the word kepsy.
There was much to read if you were so inclined but we were soon ushered into the second part of the exhibit area...
...where we were introduced to the newly-launched single-cab fleet version of the Titan and shown a short video full of much pickup-ness.

After the brief show-and-tell we were then directed to the different exhibits around the area that showed off the various features and accessories of the new truck.

In the exhibit hall they had a heavily accessorized Platinum Reserve Titan XD complete with the nifty Titan boxes and gooseneck setup.

A whole area was devoted to the new Cummins turbodiesel V8.

Yet another display talked about the extra macho that Nissan has baked into the new Titan XD including a beefier frame and brakes that looked big enough to slow down Earth's rotation.
Of course, the big draw was the actual driving experience so after we had our fill of staring at glow plugs and box beams we moseyed out to the driving courses.

Nissan had both the Titan XD and its not-so-little brother the regular Titan. In case you're wondering the XD gets extra reinforcing the regular Titan doesn't and so it's rated to haul and tow more. The regular Titan also doesn't have the option for the Cummins diesel. In short it's a light duty truck versus the "medium-duty" XD. That's 50% less brodozer if you can't be bothered with details.

The street course had an acceleration area. Just like at the Nismo Performance Academy I talked about before! Only slower...

After the acceleration test you had a braking area, slalom, and this emergency lane change area that sadly had no random moose wandering around to add to the excitement.

Having done so many track events in vehicles much more suited to such antics I was of course a lot more interested in the off-road portion - and for that I made sure to request a drive in the butchy Pro-4X.

After running over some simulated logs to show off the good ride quality of the Titan it was the party piece: Warrior Hill.

Granted this may not seem like something that should be a huge challenge to any full-size truck worth its salt but it did amply demonstrate the benefit of Nissan's Around View Monitor camera system for off-roading. Even with the nose pointed at passing airliners I could see where I was going by checking the front-facing camera.

After going over the brow of the hill it was time for Hill Descent Control to strut its stuff.

They also thoughtfully included these berms to show off the Titan's articulation - handy for those times when you might run over a Smart car in the Costco parking lot. Purely accidentally of course...

More challenges highlighted the Around View cameras again, including this narrow bridge where it helped to avoid curbing a wheel on an obstruction.

And then there was a further demonstration of the ride quality with these cement blocks.

I also happened to notice that parked just outside the test area was an example of each of the Titan's main rivals. They weren't included in the regular Driving Experience but I was told these events are also used for dealer training so I presume the trucks were there for that purpose.

As I mentioned earlier we had a fun time at the Titan Driving Experience and if you have any sort of interest in the Titan or pickups in general I highly recommend you try it out if the opportunity presents itself. Oddly, Nissan doesn't mention this program on the Titan's page at the Nissan USA website but the mailer they sent me did give the website for me to register and if you hit the “click to register” link it gives a list of cities where they're holding it. There's also a phone number listed in the help link that can be called for more information.

Finally I'd like to say thank you to the organizers and staff at the Titan Driving Experience while I was there who were all very friendly but also helped me get access to some great shooting locations to take the pictures posted in this article.


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